Who is Kim Ju Ae? Kim Jong Un’s daughter will likely succeed him as North Korea’s leader

World News

Kim Ju Ae, the daughter of Kim Jong Un, will likely succeed her father as North Korea’s leader, according to South Korea’s spy agency NIS—though little is known about her since making several public appearances over the last year, increasing speculation about her potential leadership.
Kim Ju Ae

Ju Ae has made several public appearances over the last year, though little is publicly known about her.

SOPA Images/LightRocket via Getty Images

Key Facts

Ju Ae was first identified as Kim’s daughter in 2013, after former basketball star Dennis Rodman accidentally revealed her name by indicating he held Kim’s “baby” daughter during a visit to Pyongyang.

Kim’s daughter was not seen publicly until November 2022, when she appeared alongside her mother, Ri Sol Ju, during a missile firing test at Pyongyang International Airport, according to North Korean state media, which refers to Ju Ae as Kim’s “most beloved” and “respected” child.

Cheong Seong-Chang, an analyst for the South Korea-based Sejong Institute, told the Associated Press that Ju Ae has a younger sibling whose gender and age have not been publicly revealed.

Ju Ae appeared in several public events with her father throughout 2023, including several military events like military parades, and was most recently seen during New Year’s Day celebrations in Pyongyang, according to the New York Times.

Key Background

The NIS said in a report Thursday that Ju Ae was Kim’s “most likely successor,” based on her increased presence during public events, the level of respect she receives and her public reception. The agency noted there were still “a lot of variables at play” because Kim was “still young and without significant health issues.” A senior South Korean official suggested last month it was “highly probable” Ju Ae would be named Kim’s successor, adding she was taken “more seriously” after her first public appearance. Kim Yung Ho, South Korea’s unification minister, suggested “we cannot rule out the possibility” of Ju Ae ruling North Korea because “they are putting her on the main stage so early.” The NIS previously suggested Ju Ae would not be named Kim’s successor because North Korea’s leadership is largely patriarchal.


North Korea has held elections since 1999, though local elections do not determine the leadership of the country, which is selected through parliamentary elections. The Kim family has ruled the country since its founding in 1948, when Kim Il Sun—Kim Jong Un’s grandfather—was named North Korea’s first supreme leader. James Fretwell, an analyst for NK News, told the BBC that North Korea is a “male-dominated” and “Kim-dominated” society, adding it would be “surprising” if someone outside of the Kim family was ever named leader.

This post originally appeared on Forbes.com

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